The Rock Roof Temple of Ladakh

Rock Roof Temple in Ladakh

Thakthok Monastery

Thakthok Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located near Shakti village, 46km east of Leh. The name ‘Thakthok’ means ‘rock roof’ and both the monastery’s roof and walls are built from rock.

Thakthok is the only Nyingma monastery in Ladakh and is home to around 55 lamas. It was founded around the mid-16th century during the reign of Tshewang Namgyal, on a mountainside around a cave in which Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the eighth century.

Every year, on the ninth and tenth day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar,celebrations including sacred dances are held at the monastery.

20150817_153706 (1)


‘To Earth’,

a poem written by our Enlish-language editor Matthew Singh-Toor

(Meditation whilst sitting on a wall opposite the Rinpoche’s residence

At Thakthok Monastery)


Three boxes,


Side by side,

The middle box shorter,

No divide.

(The Rinpoche within



Three boxes,


Against rock.

Rock chaotic,

Strata diagonal.

Hewn and polished

Spliced and eroded,

Fissured and curved,

Corners rounded.


(The Rinpoche within

Muses on

A line of scripture).


Four windows

Cross-barred black,


Reflecting grey

In heavy wooden frames.

Maroon frames,

Black borders,

Thick paint

On the whitewashed façade

Of dripped plaster.



(The Rinpoche within

Presses his fingertips together).


Five prayer flags,

Yellow, green, red, white, blue,

Against rock, lichen-rusted

And the vast blue sky,

Deep and flat and even,

Ready to engulf.


(The Rinpoche within



Five creatures,

Moo, chirp, buzz, bark, coo.

Flutter of wings, flags, polythene against broken window.

Shush and hush of breeze.

Roar and honk, approaching, receding.


(The Rinpoche within


My eyelids droop closed.


Fingertips graze rough plaster,

Skimming chalky over sun-warmed distemper.

Palms grow gargantuan to cup rounded corners.

Eyelashes flutter over prayer flags,

Flutter-tickled in return.


(The Rinpoche within

Looks down from the window)


To earth, sand and scrub,

Rock chipped, shattered,

Shards scattered.

I revive in the dust,



(The Rinpoche within

Sees everything).

20150817_153012 (1)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Check out our latest
Articles, Videos, Events,
Recipes and more!

Scroll To Top